BIIF decision looms Thurdsay: ADs advance proposal to cancel fall, winter sports

If order to salvage any hopes of holding BIIF fall – including football – and winter sports this school year, the league’s principals will have to reject a cancellation proposal put forth by their athletic directors as support grows statewide to keep the hold on extra-curricular activities in place.

BIIF president Dean Cevallos, the principal at Keaau High, said he and his fellow school heads will meet Thursday afternoon to decide a path forward.

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On Tuesday, during what was described as a spirited meeting, Hawaii Preparatory Academy athletic director Stephen Perry said the BIIF’s ADs voted to cancel the 11 sports traditionally held in the fall and winter: football, girls volleyball, cross-country, bowling, air riflery, cheerleading, soccer, basketball, wrestling, paddling and swimming and diving. The vote was far from unanimous, Perry said, but largely saw the BIIF’s public (who voted to cancel) and private schools vote together.

“It was very frustrating,” said Perry, who said he expects the principals to adopt the proposal Thursday.

If so, the BIIF will be just the latest of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association’s five leagues to scrap return-to-play plans during the pandemic. The Maui Interscholastic League voted Wednesday to cancel all but the eight spring sports – according to the Maui News – and the Oahu Interscholastic League made a similar move a day earlier. The first domino fell Saturday when the HHSAA canceled nine state championships.

BIIF executive director Lyle Crozier said the league would send out a news release following Thursday’s board meeting. The remaining sports this school year – baseball, softball, boys volleyball, water polo, golf, judo, tennis and track and field – are all scheduled to begin March 1 and aren’t expected to be immediately impacted by the board’s decision. Those spring sports were the first to be canceled as the COVID-19 pandemic started to grow in mid-March.

Perry said he went into Tuesday’s meeting “trying to find parties that were working to come together.”

“Kamehameha and Hawaii Prep offered to open up their facilities, for swimming, basketball, soccer, cross-country, for the four weeks of February to anybody who wanted to informally come for dual meets,” he said. “But it got voted down.”

A huge hangup for the BIIF’s public schools is the Department of Education continues to postpone large-scale in-person learning.

“We have to wait for the DOE to issue return-to-play guidelines,” Pahoa AD Hoku Haliniak said. “Until then, our hands are tied.”

Cevallos, aware that student-athletes are itching to return to play, echoed a similar sentiment: “We don’t have the go-ahead right now.”

Once on-campus learning returns, Haliniak said, then extra-curricular activities can commence again.

“For Pahoa, we can’t get into our facilities, so our kids can’t practice and get in shape,” Haliniak said. “Kamehameha has been great about letting us use their facilities (in the past), but right now we can’t even use our own.

“We’re devastated that we can’t play, but there are so many obstacles.”

Cevallos said he carries no preconceived notions into Thursday’s meeting.

“I have no idea what the AD’s proposal is or how the (principals’) meeting will go,” he said. “I’m just now getting into what the HHSAA decided.”

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If BIIF seasons are canceled, certain teams may try to schedule scrimmages or alternate forms of competition. Students at public schools might also become involved, although not while competing under their traditional school banner.

“I just want to see the kids running around out there,” said Perry, also the HPA girls soccer coach. “Give the kids something to be excited about.”